Archive for February, 2018

Feb 24 2018

March Journal: Soul Matters Spiritual Exercise for Balance

Published by under Minister's Musings

What Does It Mean to Be a People of Balance?
Soul Matters Spiritual Exercises for March
Gathering: Sunday, March 25, 2018, 1:00 p.m., Ramsden Fireside Room
Take our theme of the month deeper by engaging in one or more of these spiritual exercises.

Then join our small group to enrich the experience!

Option A:
A Reminder to Re-Balance

Sometimes balance is as simple as remembering to take a moment to breathe. The problem is
we’re not so good at reminding ourselves and remembering on our own. Take a week this month
and commit to the practice of a “daily pause”—or maybe a few daily pauses. You can keep it
simple by setting an alarm on your phone reminding you to take a break. Or you can use one of
the recommended apps below to help remind and guide you.
You’ll also need to decide what to do during your daily pauses. Some of us will step
away and go for a walk or find a quiet place to be by ourselves. Others will keep it short and
sweet, staying put and just taking 5 deep breaths. Still more will use the time for brief
meditation. Figure out what works for you.
Here are some apps that might help:

Come to the Soul Matters Reflections Group ready to share how it went. Did daily pauses make a
difference? Did you have to readjust your strategy because your first plan wasn’t working? What
exactly helped you re-balance? Deep breathing? Remembering gratitude? Silence? Self-talk?

Option B:

Put Down Their Work & Pick Up Your Balance

Often our imbalance is our own doing. Frequently, we just take on too much. But sometimes it’s
not that simple. Sometimes, our imbalance is about us taking on too much that is not really ours
to do or fix. In other words, it’s often accepting responsibility for other people’s weight and
worry that tips us over. Or as organizational consultant Betsy Jacobson puts it, “balance is not
better time management, but better boundary management.”
This exercise invites us to regain our balance by letting go of that which is not ours. The
instructions are as simple as they are challenging:

Identify one way in which you are taking on something
that is not really your responsibility.

Then find a kind way to put up a boundary
and give another’s “work” back to them.

Here’s a great reflection by Rev. Meg Barnhouse to give you some motivation: Sorry, Hon, Not My Table, by Rev. Meg Barnhouse

Come to your group ready to share what you “gave back,” how you put up that boundary, and how it offered you a bit of balance. There will likely be some bumps in the road and some costs. Come ready to share those, too, along with what the exercise taught you.

Option C:

Finding Balance by Facing FOMO

FOMO is a trendy acronym that stands for the “fear of missing out.” FOMO has reached
epidemic proportions in our culture these days, throwing us and the culture itself out of balance.
We are constantly bombarded with tempting choices about what to do or who to try to be next.
We may see daily reminders that “others” have achieved the kind of life we want, while we feel
stuck or held back.
FOMO can keep us focused on ourselves, instead of on our connections to others. FOMO
can affect our self-esteem, our anxiety levels, our capacity to become our own best selves, our
ability to gather together to make a difference for good in the world … and more.
What is your experience with FOMO?
Spend some time this month noticing when and how the “fear of missing out” arises in
your mind, heart, body, and spirit. Just make a note of the feeling and its causes when they arise.
No need to judge them.
Before the Soul Matters Reflections Group on March 25, spend some time reflecting on
what you have noticed about your experiences of FOMO.
You might take a look at one or both of these resources. They are not perfect—they feel
gendered to Rev. Nancy, and they may not speak to you. Still, you may be able to translate their
messages into something useful for your own reflection.

Come to the Soul Matters Reflections Group on March 25 ready to share what you have learned
and what you’re going to do with your insight.


Sunday, March 25, 2018, 1:00 p.m.: Balance
Sunday, April 29, 2018, 1:00 p.m.: Emergence
Sunday, June 3, 2018, 1:00 p.m.: Imagination
Sunday, June 17, 2018, 1:00 p.m.: Blessing

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Feb 24 2018

March Journal: In Our Own Voices – Balance

Published by under Minister's Musings

In Our Own Voices: What does it mean to be a people of BALANCE?

“In Our Own Voices” shares congregants’ free-flowing responses to the theme of the month. We draw these responses from on-line surveys and use them in creating worship, small-group ministry content, and other opportunities for spiritual growth.

Here are just a few of the responses we received for this month’s theme of Balance. What would you want to add?


With you in the spirit of seeking and growing,

Rev. Nancy


·         To be a people of balance means being very mindful of one’s decisions and practices. I think it also means accepting the bad weather of our lives and trying to make the best of things. Seeking. We don’t stay in balance, but we can always try to find it.

·         Oh, dear me. Balance can be such a shaming concept for those of us who feel overcommitted and overwhelmed, who find ourselves dropping balls right and left. But if I sense balance to be that beautiful place of flowing inbreath and outbreath, of BOTH/AND-ness, then I feel the peace that such balance can bring. “Moderation in all things, even moderation”? I’m not sure that old quote works for the times when we need to be “all in,” passionately devoted to a cause or a person. But when it comes to my internal work, the balance of self-love-as-I-am and self-improvement-as-the-gift-of-living feels like a worthy dance.

·         We try to balance work and play; eating for pleasure and eating for nutrition; freedom and restriction (particularly in parenting); physical activity and rest; organization and spontaneity; indoors and outdoors; self-care and caring for others. Perhaps the more interesting and challenging thing to talk about is how to regain our balance when we have lost it.

·         This is my worst issue. I love music, adore liturgy, and care mightily about my family life. I find it hard to care about things that really might make my life easier, like discipline in spending. I find I depend on others to work those issues, and occasionally it really bites me. Balance? Maybe next year!

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Feb 23 2018

March Theme: What Does It Mean to Be a People of BALANCE?

Published by under Minister's Musings

Balance as a Springboard, Not a Still Point

by Rev. Nancy Palmer Jones, with help from the Soul Matters Sharing Circle


When we talk about balance, it’s natural for calm and rest to be the first things that come to mind. After all, so many of us are tired. We’re overworked, overcommitted, and fearful. Stress undergirds most of our days. We may be so weighed down by worry and responsibility that just one drop of something unexpected can tip us right over.

So, yes, we long for rest. Yes, we want less to manage and absorb. Yes, we need balance’s reminder that finding a place of calm is possible—even in the midst of a troubling world, even in the midst of circumstances that frighten us.

Yet pointing us to peace and calm is not all that balance is about. This month’s work on balance offers us fresh and hopeful perspectives.

Thank goodness we Unitarian Universalists draw on wisdom and inspiration from many spiritual traditions! Here’s a glimpse of the search for balance through the lens of religious holidays in March:

The Christian observance of Lent reminds us that balance is a place of reassessment, renewal, preparation, and even repentance. It honors the 40 days that Jesus spent in the desert preparing for his ministry and the life that would lead to his death on the cross. The balance he seeks in the desert is not that of restful escape but that of restorative recentering. Balance gets Jesus ready, rather than simply offering him relief.

During Passoverparticipants retell the story of the exodus of the Jews from Egypt after centuries of slavery. (Stay tuned for news of FUCSJ’s Seder, to be held in early April!) In this season, balance is a matter of remembering, of pausing to put ourselves back into a story that connects us with others and anchors us in a countercultural narrative. During Passover, the balance we find is not that of calm but that of reconnection.

Ostara, the Pagan celebration of the Vernal Equinox, honors the balance of day and night, and it celebrates the way this balance is a tipping point on the way to Spring. It’s a reminder that still points are rarely still. They are a place of turning, a space where shifts happen and new life emerges.

The Hindu holiday of Holi offers a celebration that restores our belief in the power of good over evil. It reminds us that balance and calm aren’t just found by taking a break from life, but by trusting in its goodness once again.

These March holy days remind us that balance is not simply a destination but also a place of invitation. It’s not a static space of peace, as much as a still point on which we pivot and turn to something new. It’s not just about rest, but about resting up for a journey.

Yes, balance allows us to catch our breath, but it’s also about finding our center so we can end all our aimless wandering and point ourselves in the direction we want to go.

Maybe balance, after all, isn’t the prize but the springboard. Maybe balance isn’t the goal, but the source of strength that gets us where we need to go.

So, beloveds, what kind of balance will we seek in order to get us where we are called to go?


Yours in the search for the balance that keeps us ready and connected,


Rev. Nancy

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